Monday, November 13, 2006

Fastest Messaging in the world and How kids spent their time.

What do you make of this?

“The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the more ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human”

This is the message that was keyed in on a cellphone in a world record breaking 41.52 seconds by a Singapore student. Read it here. To give you an idea how fast it is, a comparative typist on a normal computer keyboard typed the text more than 40 seconds! I am not surprised that an Asian (even a Singaporean teen) has taken the prize. There are many in the country who can live without lunch or dinner, but they cannot live without their cellphones. The time they spent there is unimaginable. They text it in the morning, in the classroom, during meal times, in the cinemas, in the bus, and some even do it in the car, with one hand on the wheel and the other on the cellphone! Fastest messenger in the world? Of course. The next question is: So What?
- How is the quality of life improved? (maybe it is the publicity and fame generated)
- How is this going to help in life's complicated web of human relationships? (not much, except that it might plunge more kids into trying for a faster record instead)

It would have been nice to read on the headlines, "Student from Singapore, has found a cure for Aids." or "Student from Singapore has the world's fastest response to the Disaster-Aid programme." or some other humanitarian matters.

Recently I have been thinking about how kids in Asia spend their time, other than studies, tuition and homework. One significant time-killing monster is electronic gadgets. I will put computer games in this category as well, together with video gaming, electronic players and various sensual eye-tingling sensation. The world of cyberspace has become a place more preferred than the natural world of forests, gardens, beaches, oceans and mountains. Exchanging the natural with things not so natural. Tools of work productivity are fast becoming platforms of leisure and relaxation. I remember as a kid I used to crave for video games at the public arcades. At that time, distance and money were prime considerations on how often and how long I stay there. Once my pocket money is used up, the only place to go is home.

Compare that with kids who spent their whole time at home, playing unlimited computer games, all for the price of an Internet connection! They are at home all the time but their minds are out of this world, into cyberspace. Virtual reality has been a much touted phenomena. The problem is when it starts to falsify our relationships in the real world, or even worse, when one cannot tell the difference between what is virtual and what is real. A desire for fastest messaging in the world. Will it breed more impatience? A rising hunger for latest and newer gadgets? Will it lead to more temporal relationships in favour of the next most beautiful gal or hunkiest guy? Will there be an ironic situation eventually when machines become more humanlike while people become more machinelike?

If I were to extrapolate from our modern infatuation with electronic gadgets, that is a real possibility.


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